Jonathan Blow: Game design: the medium is the message

Jonathan Blow shares his insights into why free-to-play games are a step back in the evolution of entertainment. He basically talks about what constraints of the medium (structurally) influence film plots and game play respectively. He draws an interesting parallel between free-to-play games and the “commercials and syndication” based monetization model of 70s and 80s TV series.

Highly recommended! 😀

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Hayao Miyazaki And His Women

Watching Kari Gurashi no Arrietty by Studio Ghibli something occurred to me. Thinking back to my last year in high school where I watched almost all movies produced by Studio Ghibli until then (and by extension Hayao Miyazaki) the main character was “always” a female with strangely freakish history, fate or ability. Let’s “prove” this scientifically-ish … 🙂

Theory: Studio Ghibli movies by Hayao Miyazaki have this peculiarity of a strange/freakish main female character.

Data source: Wikipedia’s list of Studio Ghibli films from 1984-2014.

Let’s see how far we get. 🙂

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: pre Ghibli, but still … the heroine has a supernatural connection with the giant insect-like Ohmu … fulfilling an ancient prophecy for good measure. pass
Castle in the Sky: Sheeta is of royal decent from an ancient civilization building flying cities. pass
Grave of the Fireflies: not by Hayao Miyazaki … phew I had almost forgot about this one. 😛 skip
My Neighbor Totoro: two curious girls befriending ghosts/spirits/trolls of the forest. pass
Kiki’s Delivery Service: the main character is a witch running a delivery service. … need I say more? pass
Only Yesterday: not by Hayao Miyazaki again. 😛 skip
Porco Rosso: no “main” female character: strike 1!
Pom Poko: phew … not by Hayao Miyazaki … Tanuki to the rescue! 🙂 skip
Whisper of the Heart: … I don’t remember the plot any more … so, strike 2!
Princess Mononoke: raised-by-wolves warrior princess of the woods. pass
My Neighbors the Yamadas: haha … I was almost worried … not by Hayao Miyazaki 😀 skip
Spirited Away: Chihiro has to master her passage from childhood to adulthood in the spirit world … also falling in love with a boy-dragon-hybrid-formshifter-thing. pass
The Cat Returns: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but in this film the main character Haru is offered the hand of the Prince of the Cat Kingdom for saving him … too bad it doesn’t count. 🙂 skip/pass
Howl’s Moving Castle: The main character, Sophie, gets cursed and is transformed into an old woman. she works at the hand of the wizard Howl to remove the curse. pass
Tales from Earthsea: not by Hayao Miyazaki. skip
Ponyo: Let me quote the first line of the plot section in the Wikipedia article of the film “Brunhilde [also named Ponyo] is a fish-girl who lives with her father Fujimoto, a once-human wizard who now lives underwater, and her numerous smaller sisters.” pass
Arrietty: is only 10cm tall! pass
From Up on Poppy Hill: knowingly agreeing to incest (at least from what they knew at that time) … really?!? pass
The Wind Rises: tragic story, but no “main” female character. strike 3! 🙁
The Tale of Princess Kaguya: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but she starts out as a “miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot” skip/pass
When Marnie Was There: not by Hayao Miyazaki … (not seen yet) skip

Summary: 21 Studio Ghibli films; 13 of them by/with Hayao Miyazaki; of which 10 fit the theory, with 3 “outliers” and 1 “unexamined” data point.

Not bad for a hunch. 😉

Update 14.09.2013:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing From Up on Poppy Hill.

Update 11.08.2014:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing The Wind Rises and the The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

Anpassung an die Fiktion

Das war aber auch Zeit. Viel zu lange musste man sich in Deutschland der Willkür von Gesetzgeber und Behörden unterwerfen, die eigensinnig und stur Regeln für den Straßenverkehr und die Polizeiarbeit aufgestellt haben, die sich stark von der Hollywood-geprägten Filmrealität unterschied.

Daher wird es Zeit amerikanische Erkennungszeichen der Polizei auch hier einzuführen. Was hat denn größere normative Kraft, z.B. das Fahrschultraining und deutsche Gesetze oder die dauernde Film- und Serienberieselung aus der neuen Welt … natürlich letzteres. Könnt ihr euch vorstellen, was alles passieren kann, wenn der reale deutsche Polizist nicht wie sein fiktiver amerikanischer Filmkollege auftritt? Ich sehe jetzt schon die Schlagzeilen, die durch dieses Missverhältnis verursacht werden.

Neue Farben haben wir ja schon länger, die Verkehrskontrollen hat sich die Polizei passend gemacht, und nun sind auch die Sirenen dran.

Irgendwie wirkt das so, als ob man bewusst die Grenze zwischen (deutscher) Realität und (amerikanischer) Fiktion zu verwischen versucht, um den Weg für ähnliche Reaktionen/Rhetorik zu bahnen. … Erinnert sich z.B. noch jemand an den Versuch den Abschuss von Passagierflugzeugen zu erlauben?

Behind the Scenes Look Into International Politics

There two interesting things I have seen and read with regard to international UN level conferences.

The first one was a documentary called The Island President. It’s about how the former president of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, tried to make politicians of other states aware of the consequences of global warming, which in the case of the Maldives is quite dramatic. So it follows Mohammed Nasheed and his delegation meeting several foreign country representatives in preparation for and during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The second one is about a totally different topic: telecommunications and internet policy. ArsTechnica had an interesting piece about the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) 2012 in Dubai titled Behind closed doors at the UN’s attempted “takeover of the Internet”. It follows recounts of Eli Dourado as part of the US delegation participating in committee discussions drafting documents for regulating international telecommunications (and trying to get hold of the internet 😛 ).

Its interesting to see how politicians interact on the highest level. A common theme is the importance of choosing the right “words” both in negotiations and in drafting treaties/documents. Also interesting were where the front lines are and how the process of aligning interests, building alliances and persuasion works. From two very different standpoints, on two very different issues.

A note on the Maldives:
Being the lowest-lying country (1.5m above sea level, at the moment 😉 ) on the planet, it will be submerged under water within our lifetime with the current goal of limiting global warming to 2° at the end of the century (which looks like we we won’t be able to meet 🙁 ). Making its inhabitants the first nation of ecological refugees. 🙁

Update: ArsTechnica took a look at the IPCC’s climate predictions back from the 1990s … seems like they were mostly right with predicting the temperature rise and a little (too) conservative with the sea level rise.

Amplifiying Subtle Changes in Videos

I was pointed to an awesome piece of research titled “Eulerian Video Magnification for Revealing Subtle Changes in the World.”

They have developed algorithms that allow them to amplify subtle changes in videos (color, movement) … and select desired frequencies at that. They have an awesome demonstration video: